Cases of Note

Lake v. Memphis Landsmen, L.L.C,.2010 Tenn. App. LEXIS 200; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P18,394, Reversed at 2011 Tenn. Lexis 312 (March 24, 2011)

March 24th, 2011

OVERVIEW: Reversing, the court found that claims based on the use of tempered glass in the side windows of the bus and the lack of passenger seatbelts in the bus were preempted by the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, 49 U.S.C.S. § 30101 et seq. While there was no federal policy against the use of laminated glass in side windows, there was a federal policy that tempered glass should be one of the available safety options. Therefore, a state law claim based on the use of tempered glass in the side windows of a vehicle, in compliance with federal standards, was an obstacle to the accomplishment or execution of congressional objectives under the Act. The claims against appellees based on the failure to install passenger seatbelts were preempted by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208, 49 C.F.R. § 571.208. Further, the court determined that appellants failed to present any evidence that the use of perimeter seating in the bus caused the passenger's injuries. Consequently, the court concluded that the trial court erred in not granting appellees' motions for directed verdict on the appellants' claims based on the use of perimeter seating. All other issues were pretermitted.
OUTCOME: The court reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the court's opinion.

STATUS: Upon appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court, the court ordered remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for reconsideration in light of the United States Supreme Court's opinion in Williamson v. Mazda of Am., Inc., 131 S. Ct. 1131, 179 L. Ed. 2d 75 (2011). The case was argued again before the Court of Appeals on Nov. 7, 2012, and the parties are waiting for the decision of the court. (To read or download the opinion of the Court of Appeals, click here.)

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